Although “extraordinarily disappointed,” Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones announced that head coach Mike McCarthy’s potential firing is “not on the table” following the team’s 23-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Wild Card round.
“I don’t even want to discuss anything like that at this particular time. … That’s not on the table. The game speaks for itself,” Jones told reporters after the defeat, via Mike Fisher of SI.com.
The game certainly did speak for itself and said nothing kind about McCarthy, whose offense was out-gained by San Francisco’s, 341-307 yards, and whose squad racked up a stupefying 14 penalties, tying their own team record during a playoff game set in 2010, according to Statmuse, and coming in second just behind the Los Angeles Raiders for the most penalties in a game in the NFL playoffs. It was the fifth time this year that Dallas was flagged 10-plus times — a scathing indictment on the coaching staff.
“It’s penalties, and it was self-inflicted,” commentator Tony Romo said after the game, via CBS Sports. “It was a lack of a mental approach almost … careless. So many penalties before the snap. … You can’t have that many and expect to beat good teams and the Cowboys really hurt themselves today.”
The issues that metastasized during the regular season killed the Cowboys in the opening postseason tilt, which ended on a brutal clock management error by quarterback Dak Prescott, prompting the AT&T Stadium faithful to lob beer bottles and other items at players as they hurried toward the tunnel.
Exactly three weeks after claiming the NFC East title, the now-12-6 Cowboys were sent home for the winter, extending the franchise’s Super Bowl drought that much longer.
“Extraordinarily disappointed. Very disappointed. Disappointed for our fans. … This is quite a letdown,” Jones said, via the Dallas Morning News.
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McCarthy Unconcerned About Future
Rumors of McCarthy’s firing have been swirling since the conclusion of Dallas’ COVID-marred and injury-ruined 2020 campaign, which the club finished 6-10. They reached a fever pitch in fall 2021 after the Cowboys dropped three out of four contests, but cooled in recent weeks as the silver and blue surged into the playoffs.
Such speculation will re-intensify going forward. But McCarthy, who signed a five-year contract upon hiring, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, is unbothered by reports of his would-be demise.
“I don’t have any concerns,” McCarthy said after the game. “I’m proud to be standing here today. I’m proud of my football team.”
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Dump McCarthy, Keep Quinn?
The latest speculation of McCarthy being fired was floated by Sports Illustrated insider Albert Breer, who reported on January 12 that Dallas could be “tempted” to pink-slip McCarthy if only to retain in-demand defensive boss Dan Quinn, who’s garnered NFL head-coaching appeal from several teams.
“Why? Well, as I understand it, the Joneses love that coordinator of McCarthy’s, and Dan Quinn has already drawn a lot of head-coaching interest from other teams (the Dolphins, Jaguars, Broncos and Bears have put in for interviews with him),” Breer wrote. “Quinn, it should be noted, is still getting paid by the Falcons, so the Cowboys can’t really give him a raise to entice him to stay. Would they make him the head coach to ensure it?”
“Ultimately, I don’t think they’d go through with something like that,” Breer continued. “I remember when they were in that sort of spot in 2008, standing to lose a coordinator they really liked (Jason Garrett), and did all they could, monetarily at least, to stop him from going to Baltimore or Atlanta. But they didn’t actually pull the plug on Wade Phillips for another two and a half years after that. That said, it wouldn’t surprise me if they’d be tempted to do it.”